When my son Miles was about 6 months old, I created a small Python 2.4 program (using PyGame) that maps key presses to sounds. I started using some cartoon sound effects, and recorded my voice on a single key just for fun. But he really seemed to like the voice better than the cartoon sounds, so a bunch of his family chipped in with sayings.
The computer keyboard works well, especially when they’re too young to really understand what a button is. On most of his toys, which only have up to half a dozen keys, he doesn’t seem to understand that pressing in that particular area is what causes the sound. You also need to press those buttons much harder than a computer keyboard, which he hasn’t figured out. With the keyboard, wherever he hits he gets sounds, and when he rests his hand on the keyboard and wiggles his fingers, he gets lots of sounds.
There are some limitations: I need to figure out how to disable the Windows key, and if you hit too many keys at once, many of them get dropped, so that wiggling his fingers doesn’t do anything. Still, he likes it.
I bet he’d like it even better if it had the sounds he makes, grunts and coos and things. And what he really seems to like from me is when I raspberry or growl or make other kind of unvoiced sounds. I bet he’d like to hear them in the toy too!
Maybe some day I’ll have it show a picture of whoever is talking, if I can find the time…